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A cleaner campaign: Central Florida volunteers push for more plastic political sign recycling

This story was originally published by Spectrum News.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — When Kay Hudson looks at campaign signs, she sees clutter.

With Election Day over, the League of Women Voters volunteer has a new task — clearing up campaign sign recycling drop-off sites.

Hudson is hoping more people will put the old signs into the piles at collection centers — an effort in Florida that is growing in size and scope with each election.

Currently, plastics recycling company PureCycle carries out the recycling project with Orange, Seminole, and Volusia counties, and organizers hope the effort will continue to expand. 

Hudson says 18,000 signs were gathered for recycling during the August primary — the equivalent of about 3 tons.

“The political environment is so combative, and I think these signs make it feel that way," she said. "And I think anybody would have a great sense of satisfaction in knowing that these signs aren’t just there for political reasons — that they can be turned into something better."

Political sign collection centers had been set up in participating Central Florida counties for the campaign, which wrapped up over the weekend.

The No. 5 plastic that many signs are made of, polypropylene,  is broken down into pellets for use in the production of things like make-up containers, razor handles and other products.

“Polypropylene plastic or plastic No. 5 is one of the most used plastics in the world and one of the least recycled," PureCycle's Christian Bruey said. "So previously, when you would recycle something that was a polypropylene, it would be turned into a gray or black plastic resin which you couldn’t use again.

"The technology that we have takes all the colors and odors out of it and creates a clear plastic resin so that recycled resin can go back into a new product."